WARREN, NJ – Some 36 students in Dance Ensemble, an extra-curricular activity at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS), performed at the annual Spring Dance Concert, Thursday, May 12, to Saturday, May 14, in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

The seniors performed one dance in their new college attire to rousing applause.

The students performed 20 pieces in total, including 15 pieces that were choreographed by the students themselves. Many of the students performed in multiple pieces during the three nights of the concert.

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“This this is a huge accomplishment for a high school dance program and for high school dance students,” said Marisa Joshi, WHRHS Dance Instructor and Dance Ensemble Director. “The rest of the pieces were choreographed by faculty and guest choreographers.   As part of the performing arts program here at WHRHS, students can take Dance I, Dance II, Advanced Dance and World Dance for arts credits.”

Dancers performed a large variety of styles during the concert, including modern, contemporary, jazz and ballet

“Audiences saw a dance concert that was full of variety,” she said, “from solos to group pieces. Each work had it's own message and it's own flavor.  We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful technical director and crew who help to make the lighting, music and overall show look very professional.”  

Dancers performed accompanied by music, and with the stage bathed in lighting which contributed to the compositions. 

“Students audition for a slot in the ensemble company in October,” Joshi said. “Rehearsals start shortly thereafter.  In total, rehearsal and preparation for this show is an 8 month process.”  

Joshi said the success of the dance ensemble requires a strong commitment by students.

“The students who are involved in Dance Ensemble are extremely focused and disciplined,” she said.  “They work incredibly hard over the course of the year, often balancing rehearsals with jobs, rigorous academic schedules and dance training at local studios.  Students who choreograph have the added challenge and responsibility of directing a group of their peers as they create a work of art.  I often hear how surprised people are that these are high school students.  Their level of commitment and professionalism is apparent in the beautiful show we produce.

Joshi has been the dance teacher at Watchung Hills for 11 years.  She started the program at WHRHS in the 2005-2006 school year.  Joshi holds a bachelor’s degree in Dance from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., and a master’s degree in Dance Education from New York University, New York, N.Y.  She also holds a NJ Certification as Teacher of Dance K-12.

She is assisted in directing the Dance Ensemble by Melissa Markowich, who was one of her first students 10 years. “Melissa has become an invaluable asset to Dance Ensemble” Joshi said.  “In addition to choreographing, she helps with rehearsals and designs lighting.“